20-Something Swag

(forever young, sometimes broke, and always snarky)

Month: January, 2012

The Marrying Kind

This post might lose me some friends, it might land me on some prayer chains, and it might garner me a few unsolicited debates. Let me respond to these hypothetical situations right now, so readers aren’t left hanging. Scenario 1) I’ll be your friend no matter what you believe.  Scenario 2) Thank you! I can always use prayer and encouragement. Scenario 3) Forgive me if I don’t want to argue, which I don’t. If you would like to read a good explanation as to why I’m not engaging in debates, please read my friend Marilee’s essay: http://www.thecontemplativemommy.com/?p=809

While sitting in my office this afternoon, I overheard a student discussion about gay marriage and same-sex relationships. In the hallway of a moderately socially conservative university, these students spoke candidly on their perceptions of homosexuality in American culture. The whole time I kept my silence, not wanting to impose anything as an instructor, but I had a running inner-commentary throughout the discussion–a commentary of mostly “Yes!” and “I’m so glad you said that.” I still don’t find the classroom or my position as an instructor to be an appropriate venue for me to assert most of my political views, so, please, think of this as a personal statement, from one 20-Something to another, and to anyone else willing to listen.

I think it’s time I clear the air, time I make a declaration.

The start of each year makes me feel nostalgic. And since I grew up listening to country music, I have found myself tapping back into the twangy tunes of my youth. The same thing happened last January, so I am sensing a definite pattern. This morning as I reviewed today’s reading, Miranda Lambert sang “A Heart Like Mine” through the wonderful world of free Pandora Radio. The first two lines immediately got me to thinking:

I ain’t the kind you take home to mama
I ain’t the kind to wear no ring

I have always considered myself to be the “marrying kind.” You know, the kind of person whose relationships thrive on commitment and who, well, get married and married for life. If/when I do get married, of course I want it to be for life and I’m willing to work hard for that to happen. But I’m starting to wonder if I am in fact, at this moment, “the kind you take home to mama” or, more importantly, the kind to wear a wedding ring.

There are countless articles and books out for people of my parents’ generation that seek to help readers understand why so few of their children are getting married and why they prefer to co-habitate with a partner or avoid commitment altogether instead. One of the main reasons some are forgoing legal marriage is that they see the institution as a sham. With the divorce rate up to approximately 50%, I can’t blame them exactly. I like to think, though, that each relationship/marriage is what we make it, and the odds are defiable, the institution negotiable.

You might be thinking, “Woa, what happened to the cynic we have all come to know and love?” Odds defiable? Institution negotiable?

Don’t worry. I’m not done yet.

To be straightforward, I am not currently the marrying kind. Not because of any particular “dating style” I’ve chosen over another, and I don’t see myself co-habitating in the future. For one thing, I like having my own life as long as I am single. In the words of pop star Pink, “Shawty can pay her own rent.” Neither does the divorce rate, etc. have me convinced all marriages are bound for hell in a hand-basket. In fact, after watching a production of Jason Robert Brown’s two-person musical The Last Five Years, I was more convinced than ever that I could marry and that marriage can be worth fighting for. If you’ve seen the show you might be rightly surprised, just as I was. Marriage, as we know it, may, however, be a sham.

On a national level, legal marriage is a relationship limited only to heterosexual couples. To qualify for a marriage license a couple has to prove that they could have viable offspring, meaning that they are not too closely related so as to procreate children who might have disabilities or developmental problems.*

Again, I don’t want a debate. Believe what you will and stand by it. The world is big enough for all of us. I will be skeptical of the institution of marriage as long as, with a passed blood test, I could legally marry someone who turns out to be an abusive, drug-trafficking low-life as long as he’s male, while my gay friends’ desire to marry is met by “need not apply” signs in most states. Any relationship has the possibility to be dysfunctional and even abusive. But when I think of how my gay friends who are out and in relationships have chosen to be honest about their love when legislation, predominant culture, and history have threatened their safety and reputations, I can’t help but think that maybe people whose relationships are put to the test like this deserve the legal right to marry more than anyone else–straight or gay.

This 20-something thinks marriage is worth saving. Someday I hope the institution and its individual manifestations will be based on a couple’s love, respect, and commitment to each other’s well-being, as so many thriving marriages are.

Note: I recognize the difference between concepts of religious and legal marriage. I am not arguing one way or another about churches officiating same-sex marriage, as each religious community has different criteria for marriage and each must interpret/address scriptural writings on this topic. Nonetheless, the chorus of “A Heart Like Mine” comes to mind:

‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
And I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine

*Thoughts on procreation are sure to follow at some point.

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Get Yo’self a Puppy

My cousin is one of the funniest people I know. I might be saying this because she laughs at all my jokes, even the ones that aren’t THAT funny, but regardless, I love her humor because it’s simultaneously sly and perceptive. One such sly and perceptive comment of hers that has stuck with me was said as we bitched over the phone about friends feeling the need to get married before they have a significant other to marry (and over the price of toilet paper).

“It’s simple, Koh,” she said, “People our age are feeling their biological clocks ticking.”

“So they should go spouse seeking?”

“No. It means it’s time to buy a puppy.”

One of my housemates has decided recently that she wanted a puppy, REALLY wanted a puppy. “I don’t have anything constant in my life right now and I’m so busy,” she said from the gliding rocker, the kind that was all the rage in the early 90s. “A puppy is always there when you come home, it always loves you, and it’s so calming to sit and pet one.”

If you, too, want a puppy and you are a busy 20-something, stop reading this if you don’t want a reality check (note: I have Housemate’s full approval in this diatribe).

This is not the time to be rushing into marriage OR puppy parenting. But let’s tackle the puppy issue first.

The reasons that we are trolling the Humane Society for the perfect Yorkie who “connects with us” through the slobbery glass are the very same reasons that 20-somethings should NOT be doing just that. We are in fact the LAST social group on the planet, besides the under-five crowd, who should be buying puppies.

If we’re so busy with classes/work/errands/etc. that we want to fall into the arms of a puppy at the end of the day then we are probably too busy to take care of a puppy who would find ways to amuse herself in our absence. Remember what I said about toilet paper? Puppies love stringing gnawed-on toilet paper through the house–the more expensive the better. And they may or may not prefer rooting through the rubbish for used bits of toilet paper, tissues, napkins, and paper towels even more than carefully unrolling the fresh Charmin. And what could be more constant than a never-ending string of T.P. and used tissues? And yapping? And grooming? And walking? And feeding? And vet bills? And cleaning up pee and shit?

But, I get it, friends. As I sit and listen to The Civil Wars croon out “I’ve Got This Friend,” as if the Pandora gods knew I was talking about “man’s best friend.” It’s nice to feel needed and to know that at the end of the day someone–canine or otherwise–thinks the world of you, even when your drugstore eyeliner is smudged and you just spent the afternoon teaching a class of students who obviously hadn’t done the reading. It’s nice to have someone who comes running when you call, snuggles in the crook of your elbow, watches the same crappy television shows you do and does all the assigned reading for your classes, likes everything you’ve ever written, said, or thought.

How to Be a Bridesmaid: Step One

Shut your mouth, open your checkbook.

25 and Falling

If you’re in your 20s, or have been in your 20s, you know this universal truth: being 20-something can suck. But it can also be great. When I started my 20s (like one starts a new hobby), I had lofty goals of finishing my PhD. before 30, paying off my student loans even quicker, and somewhere in there writing a book of meaningful poetry or prose. Five years in and I have a master’s degree, have raised my academic debt, and have started a blog.

Oh, how the slightly-above-average have fallen.

20-Something Defined?

I always thought 20-something had to do with numbers, but apparently it’s a state of mind . . . or of one’s ass in relation to Mum & Dad’s couch. Do you count as a “true 20-something“?